Eastern Pigfish, Bodianus unimaculatus (Günther 1862)

Other Names: Banded Pig-fish, Black-spot Pigfish, Black-spot Pig-fish, Eastern Blackspot Pigfish, Pigfish, Red Pigfish, Reddish Blackspot Pigfish

A male Eastern Pigfish Bodianus unimaculatus, in the Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand. Source: Paddy Ryan / www.ryanphotographic.com. License: All rights reserved


Eastern Pigfish change sex from female to male during their life cycle, and have two colour phases. Females are pinkish above, creamy-white to yellowish below, with many fine stripes and 3 horizontal rows of large red dashes along the sides.

Males are reddish with a large cream to pale yellow blotch below the soft dorsal fin, and a large black blotch outlined in blue on the dorsal fin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Bodianus unimaculatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/217

Eastern Pigfish, Bodianus unimaculatus (Günther 1862)

More Info


Known in Australian waters from off Noosa (Queensland) to Port Phillip (Victoria); also on seamounts, ridges and rises in the Tasman Sea, including off Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.

Elsewhere, the species occurs in the south-west Pacific (New Zealand, Kermadec Islands, Rapa, Easter Island).


The Eastern Pigfish has two colour phases. Females are pinkish above and creamy-white to yellowish below, with many fine stripes along the body and 3 horizontal rows of large red dashes, one running below the dorsal fin and the other two originating from the eye.

Males are red above and somewhat bluish below, with a large creamish blotch below the rear of the dorsal fin that extends onto the lower soft dorsal-fin rays, and a large black blotch with a blue margin on the middle of the dorsal fin.

During the breeding season, males develop a whitish "v-shaped" marking behind the eye, darker colouring on the sides of the body, and pale upper and lower margins on the caudal fin.


Feeds on a range of large benthic invertebrates.


The Eastern Pigfish is a long-lived protogynous hermaphrodite, and changes sex from female to male between 25-30 cm in length. Females are sexually mature at 2 years of age, males at 4 years.


IUCN: Least Concern

Similar Species

In Australia, this species has often been confused with Bodianus vulpinus, a species found off South Australia and Western Australia.

Species Citation

Cossyphus unimaculatus Günther 1862, Cat. Fishes Brit. Mus. 4 : 109, 506. Type locality: Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Eastern Pigfish, Bodianus unimaculatus (Günther 1862)


Francis, M.P. 1991. Additions to the fish faunas of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands, Southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 45(2): 204-220.

Francis, M.P. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Gomon, M.F. 2001. Descriptions of two new species of Bodianus (Perciformes: Labridae) from Australasian waters. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 28: 407-416

Gomon, M.F. 2006. A revision of the labrid fish genus Bodianus with descriptions of eight new species. Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 30: 1-133

Gomon, M.F. &. Russell, B.C. 1994. Family Labridae. pp. 675-699 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

Gomon, M.F., Stewart, A.L. & Clements, K.D. 2015. Tribe Hypsigenyini. pp. 1367-1373, in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds). The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 4 pp. 1153-1748.

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Grant, E.M. 1982. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : The Department of Harbours and Marine 896 pp., 459 pls. (misidentified as Bodianus vulpinus)

Günther, A. 1862. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Acanthopterygii Pharyngognathi and Anacanthini in the collection of the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 4 534 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. (misidentified as Bodianus vulpinus)

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers I-xvii, 434 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2010. Labridae fishes: wrasses. Seaford, Victoria, Australia : Aquatic Photographics pp. 398.

Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls.

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.

Ramsay, E.P. & Ogilby, J.D. 1887. Descriptions of new Australian fishes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 2 2(3): 561-564 (as Cossyphus bellis)

Russell, B. 2010. Bodianus unimaculatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T187812A8635543. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-4.RLTS.T187812A8635543.en. Downloaded on 11 December 2018.

Russell, B.C. & Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Labridae. pp. 638-659 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37384061

Behaviour:50 cm TL


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:6-60 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map